Online Bible Commentary
Daniel 3:8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and accused the Jews. 9 They spoke and said to King Nebuchadnezzar, "O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; 11 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up." 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?" 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." (NKJV)
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has built a great golden idol and has commanded the people to bow down and worship it. Daniel’s three Jewish friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, were in the crowd and have refused to worship the Babylonian god. They have stayed faithful to their God, the God of the Bible.
In this passage, “certain Chaldeans came forward” and alerted the king that Daniel’s friends had not bowed down to the idol (v. 8). They reminded the king that he had commanded that those who did not bow down and worship the idol at the sound of music were to be thrown into a “fiery furnace” (vv. 9-11).
Incineration in a furnace was a common form of punishment used by the king. He used this same punishment on two false prophets from Judah, Ahab and Zedekiah (Jer. 29:22). This was a normal Babylonian punishment set down in the Code of Hammurabi, sections 25,110, and 157.
The Chaldeans referred to Daniel’s friends as “certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon” (v. 12). These Chaldeans were likely some of the king’s wise men whom the king had demoted in favor of Daniel and his friends. They likely were jealous and wanted to regain their old positions of power before the king.
“Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury,” had Daniel’s three friends brought before him and asked them if it was true that they had not worshiped the idol (vv. 13-14). The king had promoted these men to high positions and likely felt betrayed by the report of their lack of loyalty to him and his god. He said if the Jews did, in fact, worship the idol it was “good”, but if they did not they would be cast into the fiery furnace, and who could save them then (v. 15)?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to answer the king, at first. They said “we have no need to answer you in this matter” (v. 16). They then told the king that if he does cast them into the furnace that God “will deliver us from your hand” (v. 17). The Aramaic verb translated “will deliver” is of the imperfect tense. This carries a meaning of possibility, but not certainty.
So Daniel’s friends were not certain that God would deliver them from death, but they still remained faithful to Him. They said that even if God did not save them they would not serve or worship the king’s gods (v. 18).
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego displayed great faith in the face of persecution and almost certain death. They set a powerful example of steadfast faith. How would we react in the same situation? Would we remain steadfast in our faith, or would we compromise and pray later for forgiveness?
How do we react in situations today where we face trials? Temptations come from Satan, but trials come from God. In the face of trials, do we deny God, or do we remain steadfast in honoring Him? God wants to be able to trust us. He puts us into trials to see how we will react, to see if we are trustworthy. He wants to bless us more than we will ever know. However, if He cannot trust us to use His blessings for His kingdom, He will withhold His blessings.